The Key To Lowering Your Handicap

Do you want to whittle that handicap down to an all-time low in 2012?

Your first step should be to take a page from the PGA Tour. At any Tour event, you’ll notice an abundance of trailers and vans marked with logos and slogans for all variety of equipment manufacturers. Week after week, they’re full of trained professionals who custom fit, build and adjust equipment for the world’s best golfers.

These players know that having clubs precisely suited to their individual swing DNA can make the difference between holding a trophy or heading home early. Over the next few weeks we’ll examine the custom fitting experience in a series of articles explaining how all golfers can reap the benefits.

Fact 1: Most players simply purchase “off-the-rack” clubs and balls with the incorrect assumption that one size fits all.

Fact 2: No two people have the same golf swing, so rarely will two people need exactly the same golf clubs.

Fact 3: More than 90 percent of golfers who are custom fit on a launch monitor realize immediate benefits with their new equipment.

Fact 4: Many mid- and high-handicappers experience greater average improvement than more skilled players.

Fact 5: The end result of a club fitting isn’t necessarily buying a new set of clubs.

At its most basic, club fitting is a matchmaking process that identifies the best clubhead and shaft combination to help a particular player hit the ball longer and straighter with increased consistency. Properly executed, it provides the optimal launch and spin characteristics to maximize distance and accuracy. It also minimizes distance gaps, making it less likely for someone to be caught in situations where they’re in-between clubs.

The process is simple. A player hits a variety of shots under the watchful eye of a fitter, who uses a launch monitor to capture specific swing data. This includes spin rates, launch angle, angle of attack, clubhead speed, smash factor and ball speed, among other data points.

While this information may seem confusing, a skilled fitter has a deep understanding of how it impacts performance. He or she uses the information to recommend club, shaft and ball options, which are then tested to determine an optimum fit. This shouldn’t be slanted toward any one brand. It’s all about what will work best for you, the individual.

“If any aspect of a player’s clubs don’t fit them properly, a perfect swing will result in a less than perfect shot,” says Steve Grosz, Master Fitter for Hot Stix Golf. “Given the proper equipment, players no longer need to make swing compensations and will see immediate improvement.”

Many golfers buy new equipment each year, yet never find clubs that let them achieve their potential. In the long run, they spend more money and enjoy the game less than if they had purchased fitted clubs to begin with.

Luckily, most fitters offer a variety of packages for all budgets. A simple putter fitting will likely cost about $75 and could have a massively positive impact on confidence and scoring. Players seeking a full-bag assessment will likely pay a few hundred dollars. In some cases, the outcome might be as simple as some slight tweaks to your existing clubs.

There are more and more club-fitting locations opening nationwide, so finding one isn’t hard. Just be certain they have a great reputation. In the end, the process will be invaluable to your game.

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